Stories

Caste Privileges, The Fairness Advertisements Complexities Of Race And India

So when we sympathize with the black people in America, we, the brown ilk only a few shades lighter have always been painting the African people roaming around in Delhi with apprehension, with pre-conceived notions and all our dispositions towards them have been loaded with slanderous judgments. So, yes, we are racists!  Dum Maro Dum, Raman Raghav 2.0, Kaminey and Shaitan – a few movies story which has shown how we, the proud Indians, pretend as if we treat everyone equally behave around the African people.

We have not even spoken about the deep-rooted caste system in India. For this, I do not need to even venture out on the road. I belong to an apparently high-caste stratum (Brahmin) in Hindu. I have seen my family members keep a different set of utensils for ‘lower-caste’ people, there are different rules which are strewn towards them, there are specific jobs which only they can do and well, the dignity of labor has always been an alien concept in India.

While I was rising through the ranks, these oppressed castes were denied access to knowledge, they were always doing menial jobs and they were always pigeonholed – essentially, they were getting their hands dirty so that the upper-castes could walk out and earn money. So, when we speak about George Floyd and how social reforms are needed in United States, we need to step back, blink and pause and see around us – are we any different, well, we may be worse!

Now, let us speak about the North-East, the beautiful and yet, isolated and harassed part of India. The comments which people from the region have to hear, the treatment which is meted out them on a daily basis only alienates them – once again the majoritarians of the north Indiawalk around with their chests puffed out hammering slanderous statements at fellow Indians. Yes, we should be aggrieved at what has happened in the United States, but, hey, closer home and at our homes we Indians are no different.

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When we speak about the mainland there is a deep-rooted Aryan-Dravidian divide, and this has always simmered tensions. While North Indians always have few things to say and they always have few things to observe about the ‘dark-skinned’ people from the South, it could be the result of the false notions which has been fed to minds right from childhood – white is always right. Well, it is not!

And then there are the advertisements which are only minting money by pushing through their agendas. The ‘skin whitening’ industries have always boomed in India, because everyone wanted a lighter-skin tone. The situation was so bleak that in 2014, the Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI) had to issue specific guidelines which said that dark-skinned people could not be equated to being depressed or disadvantaged.

Wow, there had to be a directive which said dark is not ugly! This was the bubble where, perhaps this still is the bubble we live in.

India is a tropical country, we have varying geographical locations, we have varying colour skins and tones and we can lead the way to social equality. There is a joy in being different, it is even more wonderful when we recognise the differences and then get together to celebrate it.